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of, by, and for the people

The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is a research center of the Smithsonian Institution. We work with communities in the United States and around the world to encourage the understanding, appreciation, and vitality of humanity’s diverse living cultural heritage.

Folklife Festival

Every summer since 1967, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival brings together artisans, musicians, cooks, and storytellers from around the world on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The 2024 Festival, June 26–July 1, presents Indigenous Voices of the Americas.

Visit the Festival

Smithsonian Folkways

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the institution’s nonprofit record label, representing the collections and productions of nearly two dozen companies and organizations, documenting the diversity of the world’s musical and spoken-word heritage and creativity.

Listen to Folkways

New Releases

Cultural Vitality

The Cultural Vitality Program works collaboratively with communities around the world to support the sustainability of homegrown forms of cultural and artistic production, especially in the areas of language, Indigenous culture, and craft.

Discover our projects

Rinzler Archives

As a public resource, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections is home to hundreds of thousands of videos, films, photographs, sound recordings, and field reports that document cultural traditions, maintained with a commitment to digital accessibility and shared stewardship.

The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is home to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, a public resource named for the founding director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.


Our research is grounded in a community-oriented approach, shaping the rich programming of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Mother Tongue Film Festival, the releases of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and our Cultural Sustainability initiatives. Our curators and scholars, drawn from folklore, anthropology, ethnomusicology, and a broad range of cultural studies, are distinguished in their practice of collaborative research and representation.

Learn about our work

Educational Resources

Over decades of research and production, we have created educational materials for cultural professionals, educators, and casual learners, including lessons plans, documentation handbooks, learning guides, and online exhibitions.

Folklife Magazine

Folklife Magazine explores how culture shapes our lives. We publish stories about music, food, craft, language, celebrations, activism, and the individuals and communities who sustain these traditions.

Read the stories

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Cultural Vitality Program, educational outreach, and more.